Summary : Looking for a polar bear adventure that combines the best of both worlds? You've found it! Spend two nights at the exclusive Tundra Lodge, a custom-designed rolling hotel that offers unparalleled seclusion and proximity to wild polar bears—then add two nights in the historic town of Churchill, for cultural activities and a chance to meet the hardy locals who call this subarctic outpost home. Experience the thrill of Polar Rover excursions on the tundra, close-up bear viewing from the safe and cozy confines of the Tundra Lodge, a comprehensive tour of Churchill, plus an exciting ride with a working sled dog team. This multifaceted trip truly does it all.
Activities : Culture, Hiking
Arrive in Winnipeg and transfer to the historic Fort Garry Hotel. Built in 1913 by the Canadian Pacific Railway, this prestigious landmark has long been a symbol of genteel elegance in the heart of Manitoba's capital, which was once a fur-trading post and railway boom town. This evening, meet for an orientation dinner with your expedition leader.
Fly to Churchill and transfer to the Tundra Lodge by polar rover, watching for Arctic wildlife against the vast white landscape along the way. A presentation on polar bears by one of your Expedition Leaders provides an enlightening introduction to your Far North adventure. Dinner is served at the Tundra Lodge, where you may see polar bears wandering outside your windows.
The Tundra Lodge is strategically positioned at the beginning of each season in the best area for bear viewing. Inquisitive bears often approach the lodge, which features rows of windows and safe outdoor observation decks to accommodate our own curiosity. As you watch the bears interact, you will be delighted by their antics and rugged beauty. You may see protective mothers with cubs, young males play-fighting, and solitary individual patrolling the tundra as they wait for the ice on Hudson Bay to freeze.
The unique location of the Tundra Lodge, combined with excursions in your special all-terrain tundra vehicles called Polar Rovers, will afford you with the best possible wildlife encounters in the region. The small spit of land where the lodge is located often attracts the most bears in the entire area. The guide and entire group may opt to take a full-day excursion together or split time between a half-day trip and viewing bears from the lodge. In addition to polar bears, you may also spot caribou, Arctic fox, Arctic hare, snowy owl and ptarmigan.
At the end of an exhilarating day, retire to your cozy accommodations for dinner and a naturalist presentation. In the light cast by your lodge across the frozen tundra, look for the illuminated eyes of animals that roam near you after dark. And if you are fortunate to have a clear night and good luck, you may see the North’s spectacular aurora borealis light show after darkness descends—Churchill has some of the world’s most concentrated northern lights activity.
Today you will depart the Tundra Lodge on a morning drive across the tundra back to Churchill. This remote hamlet was once a Hudson Bay Company trading post, and your comprehensive tour of the town and environs includes cultural activities that highlight the frontier history and indigenous heritage of the area. There will be time to wander the few blocks that comprise "downtown," with a chance to pick up some souvenirs and Arctic handicrafts from the local shops. Later this afternoon you will check into your hotel. Enjoy dinner at a restaurant in town, followed by an evening presentation.
Head out onto the tundra this morning for a full day of nature and wildlife observation. Traveling aboard a custom Polar Rover, scout for polar bears and other Arctic animals. These vehicles are the newest and best in Churchill, with huge picture windows, a slanted front windshield that allows you to look down on bears that may be in front of you, and best of all, a steel-mesh grated observation deck on the back —bears sometimes wander directly beneath you, and you are able to come safely within inches of them! Your heated vehicles are large and comfortable, and while they can accommodate 30 or 40 passengers, you will only share the experience with 16 or fewer, so everyone has a window seat and plenty of room to spread out and get terrific photos.
This morning you will learn about a distinctly northern pastime: dog sledding. You'll meet a local musher and hear all about this traditional means of Arctic transportation, interacting with the lively dog team as you learn about their care and training. Then you will take turns enjoying an exhilarating ride as the dogs whisk you down a trail through the boreal forest. Depending on flight schedules, there may also be time for an optional helicopter tour over the tundra—a great chance to spy polar bears from the air. You'll enjoy a farewell lunch together in Churchill before your return flight to Winnipeg, followed by a reception and final night at the Fort Garry Hotel.
After breakfast, transfer to the airport for flights home.
Departure dates and itinerary are subject to change without notice. Please contact ExpeditionTrips to confirm departure schedule before purchasing air tickets. ExpeditionTrips is not responsible for itinerary changes.
Reverse Itinerary: 11/17/2017 (Town to Tundra)
Getting There & Getting Home: In case of flight or weather delays, it is recommended that you arrive a day early and either participate in the Extra Day in Winnipeg program or stay on your own. Your expedition begins with a 7 pm welcome dinner on Day 1. You are free to depart at any time on the final day. Please contact ExpeditionTrips for details.
The Tundra Lodge:
The Tundra Lodge, located on the subarctic tundra outside the small Canadian frontier town of Churchill, Manitoba, is a unique, custom-built rolling hotel placed in an area of high polar bear density at the beginning of each polar bear season, which runs from October through November. The lodge has 32 rooms. Each room is a single compartment similar to sleeping quarters on a train, with either an upper or lower berth. With six shared toilets and four showers, as well as a lounge area for viewing bears and a dining car with sliding windows for viewing and photography, the Tundra Lodge offers an immersive and personalized Arctic wilderness experience without sacrificing comfort. Raised outdoor viewing platforms also facilitate excellent polar bear viewing and photography opportunities, as well as aurora watching when the northern lights are visible.
Extra Day in Winnipeg Program: From $265 per person; Single Supplement: $55
For polar bear travelers who want to see as much as possible during their time in Manitoba, this optional one-day program in Winnipeg takes place prior to each polar bear tour. The program includes hotel accommodations at Hotel Fort Garry, breakfast and lunch, a tour of the city highlighting historical and cultural points of interest, and a guided visit to the acclaimed Manitoba Museum, winner of numerous awards for excellence in visitor experience and service.
Northern Wilderness Sled Dog Excursion: Included
An introductory sled dog excursion may be available on your polar bear expeditions, weather permitting. This overview outing is designed to introduce visitors to the tradition of sled dogs in the northland and includes a short but exhilarating, mile-long ride through the boreal wilderness. The focus of this excursion is to visit and learn about the dogs and the dog sledding tradition from an expert musher.
Northern Helicopter Tundra Adventure: From $560 per person
This 60-minute exclusive helicopter flight over the tundra is the most exciting way to view the North’s fascinating wildlife. Track migrating caribou, arctic fox and the mighty polar bear from a unique aerial perspective as you fly over the northern environs. This vast expanse of open tundra and frozen lakes also contains ancient pre-Dorset tent rings and other intriguing archaeological sites.
Round-trip flights between Winnipeg and Churchill; accommodations; meals; dog sledding excursion; beer and wine at the Tundra Lodge; services of professional expedition leaders and assistants; some gratuities; activities/entrance fees; evening wildlife and cultural presentations; taxes and service charges; complimentary boots and parka for use during trip. Subject to change without notice.
Travel to and from Winnipeg; distilled alcoholic beverages; some gratuities; travel insurance; items of a personal nature (telephone calls, laundry, etc.).
PHOTOS: © Eric Rock (NHA); © Glen Delman (NHA); ©Colin McNulty (NHA); © Mike Bruscia (NHA); © Megan Emmett (NHA)